The Best Novels of the 20th Century Worldwide

The Best Novels of the 20th Century Worldwide

The editors of the Norwegian Book Clubs, with the Norwegian Nobel Institute, polled a panel of 100 authors from 54 countries on what they considered the “best and most central works in world literature.” Among the authors polled were Milan Kundera, Doris Lessing, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Wole Soyinka, John Irving, Nadine Gordimer, and Carlos Fuentes. The list of 100 works appears alphabetically by author. Although the books were not ranked, the editors revealed that Don Quixote received 50% more votes than any other book. 

  1. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
  2. Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales and Stories
  3. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
  4. Honore de Balzac, Old Father Goriot
  5. Samuel Beckett, Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
  6. Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron
  7. Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions
  8. Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
  9. Albert Camus, The Stranger
  10. Paul Celan, Poems
  11. Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Journey to the End of the Night
  12. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
  13. Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
  14. Anton Chekhov, Selected Stories; Thousand and One Nights
  15. Joseph Conrad, Nostromo
  16. Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
  17. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
  18. Denis Diderot, Jacques the Fatalist and His Master
  19. Alfred Doblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz
  20. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Possessed; The Brothers Karamazov
  21. George Eliot, Middlemarch
  22. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
  23. Euripides, Medea
  24. William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom; The Sound and the Fury
  25. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary; A Sentimental Education
  26. Federico Garcia Lorca, Gypsy Ballads
  27. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude; Love in the Time of Cholera
  28. Anon, The Epic of Gilgamesh
  29. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
  30. Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls
  31. Günter Grass, The Tin Drum
  32. Joao Guimaraes Rosa, The Devil to Pay in the Backlands
  33. Knut Hamsun, Hunger
  34. Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
  35. Homer, The Iliad; The Odyssey
  36. Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House
  37. Anon, The Book of Job
  38. James Joyce, Ulysses
  39. Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories; The Trial; The Castle
  40. Kalidasa, The Recognition of Sakuntala
  41. Yasunari Kawabata, The Sound of the Mountain
  42. Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
  43. D. H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
  44. Halldor K. Laxness, Independent People
  45. Giacomo Leopardi, Complete Poems
  46. Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
  47. Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking
  48. Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
  49. Anon, Mahabharata
  50. Naguib Mahfouz, Children of Gebelawi
  51. Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks; The Magic Mountain
  52. Herman Melville, Moby Dick
  53. Michel de Montaigne, Essays
  54. Elsa Morante, History
  55. Toni Morrison, Beloved
  56. Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji
  57. Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities
  58. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Njal’s Saga
  59. George Orwell, 1984
  60. Ovid, Metamorphoses
  61. Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
  62. Edgar Allan Poe, The Complete Tales
  63. Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
  64. Francois Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel
  65. Juan Rulfo, Pedro Paramo
  66. Jalalu’l-Din Rumi, The Mathnawi
  67. Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
  68. Sheikh Saadi of Shiraz, The Bostan of Saadi (The Orchard)
  69. Tayeb Salih, A Season of Migration to the North
  70. Jose Saramago, Blindness
  71. William Shakespeare, Hamlet; King Lear; Othello
  72. Sophocles, Oedipus the King
  73. Stendhal, The Red and the Black
  74. Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy
  75. Italo Svevo, Confessions of Zeno
  76. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
  77. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace; Anna Karenina; The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories
  78. Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  79. Valmiki, Ramayana
  80. Virgil, The Aeneid
  81. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
  82. Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway; To the Lighthouse
  83. Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian

Norwegian Book Clubs, with the Norwegian Nobel Institute, 2002. Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Written by The UnNovelist
The Unnovelist